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WISCONSIN SOCIOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION
MARCH 30, 2018 PRESS RELEASE:
The Wisconsin Sociological Association issues this statement on UW-Stevens Point’s proposal to cut the sociology major:
We resist – and call upon others to do the same – the “vocationalization” of higher education. At precisely the time when the UW System, through its own 2020FWD Vision, identifies that "a UW education must prepare students to be creative, innovative, and ready to meet the needs of a dynamic changing workforce and world," University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point administrators and Wisconsin legislators have increasingly turned against majors in the liberal arts and toward majors with narrow jobs paths. The WSA decries their actions to eliminate the sociology major and other majors in the social sciences and humanities. As a state-funded institution, it is an unconscionable choice by the university to cut the sociology major, a major with healthy enrollments and low cost per credit, and a major that serves significant numbers of in-state students, many of which are first-generation.
UW-Stevens Point sociology graduates find careers in criminal justice agencies, human resource departments, social service organizations, counselor offices, educational institutions, and beyond. And many go on to serve the communities of central and northcentral Wisconsin. In cutting this major, UW-Stevens Point can no longer claim as its mission to “constructively engage in local, regional and global communities.” Instead, it turns its back on the region and facilitates the hollowing out of the northern two-thirds of Wisconsin, further exacerbating the “outstate” divide that exists in Wisconsin.
In the knowledge economy of the 21st Century, employers report that they want creative, problem-solving employees adept at assessing and responding to challenges, communicating clearly, and adapting to new demands. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that employers seek graduates with intellectual and practical skills as well as an awareness of diversity and human cultures. Sociology, with its focus on analytical skills, communication, and service, prepares students to flourish in the careers of tomorrow.
We call on UW-Stevens Point, the UW System, and the Wisconsin legislature to recommit itself to upholding the “Wisconsin Idea,” the mission of its universities, and particularly the regional universities, “to develop human resources, […] and to serve and stimulate society by developing in students heightened intellectual, cultural, and humane sensitivities, scientific, professional and technological expertise, and a sense of purpose.”
Ann Herda-Rapp, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology and Sociology
University of Wisconsin Colleges – Marathon County (Wausau)
Rich Wallace, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology, Criminology and Anthropology
University of Wisconsin – River Falls